(LONG BEACH, Calif. – Dec. 3, 2014) — Two of Southern California’s largest medical groups – Monarch HealthCare and HealthCare Partners – were honored this week with “Better Way to Care” awards by SCAN Health Plan and the UCLA Multicampus Program in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. The awards were presented at the SCAN-UCLA Best Practices Summit, which brought together physician groups from across the state to share best practices in two main areas: multiple chronic disease management and end-of-life care.
Orange County-based Monarch HealthCare was recognized for its Outpatient Palliative Care Program. “Medicine is more than the art of healing,” said Nancy Boerner, MD, chief medical officer at Monarch HealthCare. “It is a vehicle for hope and quality of life as patients travel through the final stage of life’s journey.”
Monarch’s Outpatient Palliative Care Program, implemented in 2011, consists of a multidisciplinary team that makes home visits to patients who have declined hospice and are deemed to be in their last year of life. Unlike hospice, palliative care allows patients to continue curative therapy while providing an “extra layer of support” to patients, families and physicians. The program has resulted in a 57 percent decrease in hospital admissions while enabling care to be rendered in the comfort of one’s home and has received high praise from patients and their families.
Serving Los Angeles and Orange counties, HealthCare Partners was honored for its advance-care planning program for patients who may be in the last year of life. The program seeks to reduce suffering, promote quality of life, and enhance communication among all parties. “We believe the most important goal is for patients to determine, in their own minds, what quality of life is and what quality of life they would want artificially supported and then to communicate these preferences to their surrogate decision maker,” said Jay Thomas, MD, lead physician and chair, palliative care steering committee for HealthCare Partners.
To support that goal HealthCare Partners created an advance-care planning infrastructure for their highest-risk patients. Upon enrollment in the program, a patient and his/her surrogate meet with a trained facilitator, typically a social worker. Through a series of facilitated interactions, meaningful discussions occur between patient and surrogate. The decisions are then legally documented and placed in the electronic medical record. “The true value of this process is the conversation that a patient has with his or her surrogate,” added Dr. Thomas. “It is a gift that can guide treatment in a future crisis.”
In all, five best practices were presented at the summit, which was attended by 11 of California’s largest physician groups. After the presentations attendees from the medical groups had the opportunity to work directly with gerontology experts from UCLA and SCAN, as well as the presenters themselves, to develop action plans that will allow them to implement these best practices within their own organizations. Clinical and operational mentoring will continue over the next six months as the groups work to implement these new programs to better serve their patients.
“The Best Practices Summit was designed to look at outstanding programs that enrich the patient experience, improve health outcomes, and reduce the cost of care,” said Dan Osterweil, MD, FACP, vice president, medical director for SCAN Health Plan. “The programs presented by Monarch HealthCare and Healthcare Partners were exceptional examples of this as they compassionately address seniors’ needs and concerns at the most sensitive and critical times of their life. In doing so these programs create models of care that we encourage other organizations to adopt so their patients can recognize these benefits as well.”
SCAN Health Plan is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans currently serving 170,000 members in California. Further information may be obtained at scanhealthplan.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/scanhealthplan.
Since its inception in 1979, the UCLA Multicampus Program in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology (MPGMG) has been recognized as a national leader in providing clinical care for older persons, teaching physicians and other health professionals how to better care for older persons, and conducting research aimed at improving the health and independence of older persons. With over 65 full-time faculty members representing many disciplines, the UCLA MPGMG is one of the largest academic geriatrics programs in the world. http://www.geronet.ucla.edu/
# # #
Y0057_SCAN_9014_2014 IA 12022014